Since leaving Oakland 11 days ago, the A’s saw their momentum halted and their roster stripped by a trade-deadline deal.
But as they finished up a rough nine-game road trip Thursday, they at least flew home with a much-needed victory to savor. Yonder Alonso’s go-ahead double keyed a two-run rally in the 10th inning that lifted the A’s to an 8-6 victory as they avoided a sweep to the Los Angeles Angels.
The A’s finished just 3-6 on their three-city trip, which started well with a series victory at Texas before they lost five in a row. Then they watched two of their most prominent players, left-hander Rich Hill and right fielder Josh Reddick, get traded to the Dodgers just hours before Monday’s trade deadline.
The rest of the season will be about playing for pride and trying to set the team up for success in 2017. Their victory Thursday had to boost their morale as they boarded their team charter. They fell behind early, fought back to take the lead, relinquished the lead and broke a 10th-inning tie with two runs off Angels reliever Mike Morin. After Alonso’s RBI double off the wall, Marcus Semien added a run-scoring single and gave Ryan Dull some cushion as he closed out the victory for his second save.
Left fielder Coco Crisp had a big game with an RBI double in the seventh and back-to-back big defensive plays in the fifth. First, Crisp threw out Andrelton Simmons as he tried to stretch a single into a double. On the next batter, Crisp hauled in a home run-saving catch of Ji-Man Choi’s drive to left. Crisp made a leaping catch as he went teetering on the short left field wall, nearly tipping into the stands. That play robbed Choi of his third home run of the game.
The A’s return to the Coliseum to begin a 10-game homestand that starts Friday against the Chicago Cubs.
Starting pitching report
One of the A’s key storylines through season’s end will be whether Jesse Hahn can re-establish himself in Oakland’s rotation. His first start back from the minors was a rocky one. The right-hander lasted just four innings and gave up five runs with sen hits and three walks. That included a four-run third in which the Angels commanded a 5-2 lead, a rally highlighted by Ji-Man Choi’s second homer of the game, a three-run shot. With Rich Hill traded and all the uncertainty Oakland has faced in its rotation throughout the season, the A’s need Hahn to entrench himself as a reliable every-fifth-day presence.
An unsung hero for the A’s, (even in defeat??), was the relief work of Zach Neal, who entered after Hahn’s short outing and delivered 2 1/3 scoreless innings. In three outings since his latest call-up from the minors, Neal has thrown 8 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed just four hits. Ryan Madson entered in the eighth and pitched 1 2/3 innings, giving way to Dull to close it out in the 10th.
At the plate
The A’s homered six times in this three-game series, including three on Thursday. Max Muncy, who started at second base, went deep in the first off Ricky Nolasco. Ryon Healy homered to left in the third and Danny Valencia went the opposite way with a homer to right during the A’s game-tying three-run rally in the fourth. Then the A’s broke a 5-5 tie in the seventh off reliever Jhoulys Chacin. Walks to Jake Smolinski and Bruce Maxwell started things, then Crisp drove a one-out double off the wall in right-center to score the go-ahead run.
In the field
Alonso was charged with an error on a tough play in the eighth in which he knocked down Johnny Giavotella’s sharp grounder but threw late to home as the tying run scored.
The announced crowd was 34,196.
The Chicago Cubs arrive in Oakland for a weekend series and bring the major leagues’ best record with them. In Friday’s 7:05 p.m. opener, Jon Lester (11-4, 2.95) returns for his first start at the Coliseum since his spending the second half of 2014 in green and gold. Dillon Overton (1-2, 9.33) will try to steady the ship after becoming the only pitcher since at least 1913 to allow more than eight home runs over his first four career games. Saturday’s 1:05 game matches Sonny Gray (5-10, 5.84) against Jake Arrieta (12-5, 2.75), then Sean Manaea (3-6, 4.68) goes up against Kyle Hendricks (10-7, 2.22) on Sunday at 1:05.